NBC Vice President and Washington DC Bureau Chief, Kenneth Strickland, visited students in the Black Student Union and US History class at Central last week. Strickland is a Joliet Central High School alumnus from the Class of 1985. He was named Mr. Steelman his senior year at Joliet Central and was a member of the football team.
Accompanying Strickland on his visit was his mother, Mrs. Betty Mahone, a retired Joliet Central High School Home Economics teacher and JTHS Superintendent’s Medallion Recipient. Mrs. Mahone is a leader in the community who established the Annual Betty Mahone Historically Black College Fair, which she has chaired for over 20 years at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Joliet. The college fair draws hundreds of individuals and a variety of historically black colleges and local colleges every year.
After starting off as an associate producer at Dateline in 1995, Strickland worked his way up the ranks, and now leads NBC’s editorial affairs and administration and works closely with NBC executives in his post atop the Washington bureau. He is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN with a degree in Mass Communications.
Describing his career path, Strickland compared it to the concept of paint by number. "My life was not paint by numbers. There are some people who know exactly what they are going to do when they graduate, what college they are going to go to, what degree they are going to have, what year they are going to get married, and what their first kid’s name is going to be. Those are people who paint by numbers," said Strickland. "That was not me. I was more connect the dots. It took me a few years before I connected all the dots to realize what my career was going to be, and that’s fine. You don’t have to be one of those people who feels like the world is collapsing around you because you don’t know exactly what it is you are going to do. You just have to connect one dot to another dot, and eventually you will find your way."
Mr. Ernest Crim, Black Student Union Sponsor and US History teacher said, "In BSU, we (Mr. Coatney, Mr. Cage and myself) realize how important exposure is for our kids so when Mrs. Schlismann presented us with the opportunity to have such a distinguished alumnus speak to our kids we confirmed without hesitation! You can tell how enamored our kids were with Mr. Strickland’s career trajectory based on the amount of questions they asked for over 30 minutes. This was a priceless experience!"